Go figure: A sport guys avoid

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Go figure: A sport guys avoid

VANCOUVER - It has prompted endless jokes at the Winter Olympics, but men just don’t want to admit that they actually like figure skating.

“It’s not the sort of thing you’d say: ‘Hey guys, come on over and watch the figure skating and we’ll have a few beers,’” said Vancouver resident Andre Sander, one of the few men watching ice dancing in the Pacific Coliseum on Sunday.

“It’s considered effeminate,” added Sander, who was watching the event with his wife, Dena.

Some experts believe that the reason figure skating has such an uneven fan base is that men feel threatened by the feminine behavior of skaters like the flamboyant American Johnny Weir.

“The sight of a man in sequins and bare-chested with makeup and flashy hair and fur and nylon and all that, that makes some men uneasy because it really threatens masculine heterosexuality,” Helen Lenskyj, professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, told the Globe and Mail. Guys just don’t want to admit that they actually like the spectacle.

“The audience is very gendered,” added Mary Louise Adams, associate professor in the school of health studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, who researches the history of figure skating.

“I think there are a lot of men who watch figure skating at home and don’t actually discuss it with their mates at work or out in the world,” Adams said. “I think there’s a lot of closet figure skating fans we don’t hear about.”

Sander, a 46-year-old carpenter, believes men are in fact more knowledgeable about the sport than they want to let on.

“We were in the pub the other night and there were all types of sports on the screens and all the guys couldn’t take their eyes off the men’s figure skating,” he said. “It was, ‘Wow, look at that’ and ‘He’s just landed a quad!’”

He believes the endless arguments turn men off.

“It’s always embroiled in judging controversies. You’d like it to be more cut and dried. It’s a bit subjective. It’s also long and you don’t really get down to the best skaters until the end.”

Most of the men in the 11,000-plus crowd at the Pacific Coliseum were in fact with their wives.

“It keeps me happy,” said Diane Andrews of her husband joining her. Hugh Andrews, 56, admitted: “If I’d known that there was a Canada vs. U.S.A. game in ice hockey, I wouldn’t have come.” AFP
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